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NEW Leadership Academy attendees navigate office politics

Friday, February 8, 2013  
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More than 600 Network of Executive Women members learned to be more "organizationally aware” during the first 2013 Leadership Academy live webinar.

"Navigate Your Organization with Savvy,” offered Feb. 7, 2013, gave an in-depth look at identifying organizational relationships and engaging people in ways that promote communication and career advancement. Career coach Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching, led the session with a new way to consider "office politics” -- a term many feel has negative connotations -- by renaming it "organizational awareness.” Organizational awareness’ encourages career-minded professionals to observe the communication and relationships that surround them, to become a "corporate anthropologist.”

Miller urged the webinar participants to say goodbye to the traditional organizational chart method of examining relationships and to develop a for-your-eyes-only picture of the shadow organization, which reflects valuable career factors such as the relationships, influence, coalitions and key influencers that exist in the workplace. Who are the key players? Where is power and influence held in this system and organization?

After creating a shadow organizational chart, create a strategic networking plan, Miller advised. "The single most important asset you cultivate is your network, your sphere of influence,” she said. "As your network grows, your ability to lead and influence grows right along with it.”

One way to approach network-building is to make a list of six people you should know better, people whose value has been identified through the shadow organizational chart.  Detail the ways you might create or enhance your relationship with each person, whether it includes attending a company barbecue, staying late after a staff meeting to talk or merely inviting that person for coffee, Miller said.

A question-and-answer period was moderated by NEW Vice President of Learning and Advisory Services Kathy Bayert. Answering a question about charting a shadow organization that is new to the employee, Miller suggested doing a mapping exercise during the first few weeks or months, but to "hold off on forming your impressions and opinions until you've had time to build a good survey.”

The 2013 NEW Leadership Academy series of one-hour webinars are offered to NEW members live on selected Thursdays at 1 p.m. ET. They are available each following Monday as recorded classes in the NEW Leadership Academy Study Hall.

Jo Miller

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